Summer 2024

Celebrating 70 Years: Lifeworks’ Milestone Events

As we reach the halfway mark of our 70th year, Lifeworks is excited to announce a series of events and celebrations honoring our remarkable journey and achievements. These gatherings will bring our community together to celebrate our shared successes and look forward to a bright future.

We’ve already had a fantastic start to our anniversary celebrations with two successful events in June. The Annual Cornhole Tournament brought together participants of all ages for a day of fun and friendly competition, while our Legislative Breakfast provided an important platform for discussing key issues and celebrating our community’s progress. (articles below).

In August, we continue with the Annual Sports Banquet, where we will honor our dedicated athletes. This will be followed by the Employment Banquet in November, celebrating the outstanding accomplishments of our talented workers.

Next month, at the Scholarship Presentation reception, seven scholarships will be awarded to deserving students pursuing studies in social services, recognizing their commitment to improving the lives of those we serve. In December, the Legends Club induction ceremony will honor employees who have dedicated ten years of service to Lifeworks, acknowledging their unwavering commitment.

The highlight of our anniversary celebrations will be the “70 Years of Inspiring Possibilities Jubilee” on September 12th at the Blue Hill Country Club in Canton. This special event will feature a video tribute, slideshows, and timelines showcasing our seven decades of accomplishments. We will present awards to those who have made exceptional contributions over the years. Guests will enjoy a festive atmosphere with delicious food, an Artists Gallery, performances by our talented individuals, and a silent auction with exciting items, including a Boston Celtics 2024 Champion Team autographed basketball.

We look forward to celebrating with you at our events throughout the year. Mark your calendars for the Jubilee—you won’t want to miss it!

Visit our 70th Anniversary Events webpage for updates this year’s festivities.

Advocating for Change: Lifeworks and Charles River Center Host Legislative Breakfast

On Monday, June 17th, Lifeworks and the Charles River Center co-hosted a Legislative Breakfast, bringing together a large group of families from both organizations to discuss pressing issues. The event, held at the Charles River Center, provided a platform for families and individuals to share their experiences and challenges, including staffing shortfalls and the need for higher wages for direct care staff, which have significantly impacted the availability of services, home supports, and day habilitation program spaces.

Charles River Center President and CEO Anne-Marie Bajwa opened the event with welcoming remarks and introduced a series of presenters, including Massachusetts State Representatives Denise Garlick and Paul McMurtry, parents Linda and Mark Goldman, self-advocate Mike Foley, and Arc of Massachusetts Deputy Executive Director Maura Sullivan. Also attending and sharing insights were Joanne Tierney, senior legislative aide for Rep. William Galvin; Aidan Doherty, District Director for Senator Rebecca Rausch; and Kathy Keyes, Communications Director for Senator Walter Timilty.

“Ensuring that our families and individuals have a voice in these discussions is crucial. Their stories and perspectives are the driving force behind meaningful change,” said Anne-Marie Bajwa.

Daniel Burke, President and CEO of Lifeworks, facilitated a question-and-answer session, providing a space for family members to share their stories and express gratitude to the legislators for their efforts, including thanking the legislators on their passing of a state budget that strongly supported services provided by the individuals served by both agencies. At the same time, many emphasized the need for continued action and support.

“This breakfast served as a needed platform for many, highlighting the ongoing challenges our community faces. It is essential that we continue to advocate for better support and resources,” said Dan Burke. “We are committed to working together to ensure that our voices are heard on Beacon Hill.”

The event underscored the importance of educating families on how to effectively advocate for their loved ones. Both the Charles River Center and Lifeworks pledged to host an Advocacy Education Forum next fall, inviting legislators and their teams to share processes, techniques, and best practices for advocacy.

This Legislative Breakfast served as a step in raising awareness and driving the conversation forward, reinforcing the collective commitment to improving the lives of individuals and families within the Lifeworks and Charles River Center communities.

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Cornhole Tournament Brings Fun and Sun to Lifeworks Community

The Lifeworks Cornhole Tournament was a smashing success, drawing enthusiastic supporters and spirited competition. Twenty-two teams of two faced off, cheered on by a lively crowd of family, friends, and staff. Despite a brief rain shower at the start, the skies quickly cleared, leaving a perfect sunny day for the afternoon’s games.

Spectators enjoyed the event from Mick Morgan’s Pub deck and the grassy sidelines overlooking the tournament area. Held on Saturday, June 8th, it was officiated by Boston Cornhole and sponsored by Wegman’s, this year’s tournament saw David Smith and Spencer McCourt clinch first place, while Conor and Ryan Flanagan earned the runner-up spot.

“This game of friendly competition continues to grow in popularity, and we are looking forward to returning next year with more teams and an even larger group joining us to cheer them on. We are thrilled to have hosted such an amazingly inclusive event for our community, with players and spectators that included the individuals we serve and their families, staff, and friends of Lifeworks,” said Dawna Gyukeri, Lifeworks Director of Development and Communications”.  The tournament serves as a fantastic fundraiser, with proceeds from entry fees and raffles supporting Lifeworks’ social and recreational activities. The event highlighted the strong community spirit and commitment to inclusivity that Lifeworks champions.

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Exciting Spring/Summer Advancements in Community Living: New Residence, Enriching Trips, and Blooming Gardens

Community Living has had many exciting advancements this spring/summer season. We are thrilled to share the news of our newest residence that will soon be home for five individuals. This state of the art 3,700 square foot ranch style property is fully accessible and features spacious living areas, modern amenities, and a beautiful view from the porch overlooking Willet Pond. It will provide plenty of opportunities for our individuals to engage in recreational activities, personal development, and social gatherings.

Trips into the local area and beyond continue to be an essential part of our Community Living program. An individual from one of our Norwood residences was able to enjoy a trip to the Mystic Aquarium recently. This Connecticut aquarium is home to thousands of species of marine mammals, fish invertebrates, and reptiles. Excursions like this enrich the lives of our individuals, fostering opportunities for both learning and enjoyment, and reinforcing the vital role that community integration plays in our mission.

A pair of housemates from the town of Canton embarked on an adventurous day trip to Battleship Cove in Fall River. They explored the museum’s extensive collection of historic naval exhibits, learning about the courageous veterans who served, and immersing themselves in the rich history of maritime warfare.

As the May flowers bloomed, our individuals eagerly resumed gardening around their homes, thanks to the Forsberg Beautification Program. Created in partnership with the Forsberg family, Lifeworks, Inc., and The Arc of South Norfolk in memory of Jane Forsberg, this program has provided our residences with holiday decorations, garden beds, trees, and flower boxes. These additions have visually enhanced the homes and offered our individuals the opportunity to embrace nature and further develop their green thumbs.

Our 19 homes currently house over 90 individuals across Plymouth, Middlesex, and Bristol Counties. As we celebrate our 70th anniversary, we reflect on our journey and the milestones achieved thus far. Looking ahead, our focus remains on sustaining and enhancing the future of Lifeworks and our Community Living program.

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A Day of Giving: Keller Williams Red Day

For the third year in a row, a dedicated group of realtors from Keller Williams participated in their annual Red Day—a day dedicated to giving back to their local communities. Each year, on the second Thursday in May, Keller Williams sets aside this day to “give where they live.”

Excited and ready to make a difference, the KW team arrived early at Lifeworks, eager to volunteer their time and energy. Teaming up with individuals served by Lifeworks from the Westwood, Norwood, and West Roxbury locations, the volunteers focused their efforts on sprucing up the grounds of the Lifeworks Westwood main office.

The day was filled with labor, conversation, and laughter as the KW and Lifeworks teamed up to rake leaves, spread mulch, clear out flower beds, and plant new flowers and vegetables. The spring transformation of the grounds brings fresh life and beauty to the space. Adding to the day’s activities, participants from the Westwood Day Habilitation program join the fun by painting planting pots that would soon be filled with colorful arrays of flowers.

The collaboration between Keller Williams and Lifeworks exemplifies the spirit of community and the power of working together to create positivity through a fulfilling and inclusive day. The vibrant new garden and cheerful planting pots serve as a reminder of what can be accomplished when people come together with a shared purpose. Red Day—which stands for Renew, Energize, and Donate— not only beautified the Lifeworks grounds but also continues too strengthens the bonds within the community, making it a memorable day for all.

Arts in the Community – Lifeworks Collaboration Highlight

An evening at the Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center (MRPAC) recently illuminated the great work of a group of budding artists from Lifeworks. The theatre is one of the organizations with which Lifeworks collaborates, offering inclusive programming in the arts. It provides individuals with a platform to explore a myriad of creative activities, discovering what resonates most with them.

For the past two years, Lifeworks has been the beneficiary of a grant from Bailey’s Team for Autism that helps support the costs of providing an array of classes and workshops as part of Lifeworks Arts in the Community program. These include pottery, painting across various mediums, jewelry making, music, and theater arts. 

The newest addition to the collaboration between Lifeworks and MRPAC is the Creative Arts Workshop Series. The workshops highlight a different aspect of the arts each month and are for individuals served through Lifeworks Family Support, Autism Support Center, and the Department of Social and Recreational Activities.  “The Rodman Center has provided a safe, welcoming, accessible community,” said Lifeworks Recreation Specialist, Tracey O’Farrell. “Which has proven to be a winning combination for the participants.”   

Participants have engaged in diverse activities like dancing with a Sugarplum Fairy, learning choreography from the Nutcracker, and preparing for a choral performance this spring. Jen, a parent, reflected on daughter Sophia’s experience, “At first, she was apprehensive, but soon she couldn’t wait to get out of the house to get there.” Jen continued, “She’d tap on her watch and motion for me that we need to get going.” Sophia has recently engaged in painting classes and theater arts performances, drawing immense encouragement and cheers from her fellow castmates. Community Partnership teaching artist Devin Dichiara, fueled by her journey with autism, led the recent painting workshop. Her portfolio can be explored on her website:

The MRPAC has proven to be a great match for the Lifeworks Community-Based Day Services Program (CBDS). Participants of the CBDS program in Norwood, showcase their talents learned in their theatre arts workshop with stage performances at the end of each workshop series. In March the group took center stage to perform scenes from Mary Poppins and topped that off in June with a performances from the The Sound of Music.

These workshops, integrated into the employment program’s choice-based scheduling, have witnessed individuals emerging from their shells and gaining confidence through creative expression. Laura Canfield, MRPAC Director, is commended for her exceptional ability to nurture talent and foster growth in participants. The CBDS programs work with the employment program, offering community integration opportunities, such as volunteer sites, classes, and other fun activities. Lifeworks Director of Employment Services in Norwood, MaryEllen Cameron said, “the theatre arts workshops have become a very popular program. MRPAC Director Laura Canfield does an amazing job educating our individuals about theater and she is phenomenal at bringing out the best in people. The individuals have really flourished from their involvement in the theater arts.”

Through inclusive programming with dedicated collaborators, Lifeworks strives to empower people to explore their creative potential, enriching their lives and contributing to a vibrant and inclusive community.

Athletes Shine Bright with Gold and Silver Wins at Special Olympics MA Tournaments

Lifeworks floor hockey and basketball teams triumphed at the Special Olympics Massachusetts State Tournaments. With a thrilling overtime victory, the Lifeworks floor hockey team clinched the gold medal, while the basketball team secured a commendable silver.

The Lifeworks floor hockey team played two amazing games securing the gold medal after a come from behind overtime win. The Special Olympics MA floor hockey tournament was held in Worcester on April 7th.  “It was definitely a nail biter,” said team captain Jenny P., of Norwood, MA adding “we did very good, a gold medal is very impressive,” Word spread fast about their win. Mike M., a team member from Walpole, MA, was not able to make the tournament, but when he heard about the result said, “Awesome, I’m so proud of my team this year.” The Lifeworks floor hockey team diligently practiced on Saturday evenings at Xaverian Brothers High School.

Leading up to their silver medal win, the basketball team diligently practiced on Monday nights at the Civic Center in Norwood, MA and participated in three weekend Special Olympic lead up tournaments where they won gold, earning their automatic place in the Special Olympics MA State Tournament. At the State Tournament games held on April 7th, the Lifeworks basketball team played two highly competitive teams—winning one game and losing the second—earning them the silver medal.

Heaping praise on the work of their coach, Kevin Murphy, who is Lifeworks Board member and long-time coach, player John O. remarked, “Kevin’s a good coach. The team played very well and had good sportsmanship. There are lots of good people on the team and lots of new people, so coach Kevin did a great job helping us work together and win!” Coach Kevin equally praised his players, “I am very proud of our athlete’s performance and their determination to never quit or give up even when they were losing.”

“I am so proud of our basketball and floor hockey athletes! Both played amazingly against tough teams and never gave up at the State tournaments. The games were wonderful to see, but even more so, was their sportsmanship. I think it says a lot about each player and the values our coaches instill in them. We are already counting down until the next seasons start!” exclaimed Kate Kalinoski, Lifeworks associate director of Social & Recreation Programs.

Lamin Yansaneh: Making a Difference Every Day at Lifeworks

Lifeworks employs over 500 staff members across our nineteen community residences and three office/day program locations. With such a wide array of locations and shifts, we strive to get to know our colleagues whenever we can. We host educational programs, celebrations, and engagement activities, and share articles in this newsletter highlighting our employees so we can all get to know each other better. This month, meet Lamin Yansaneh, a residential program manager for Lifeworks, who has been with us since June 2022.

Lamin was drawn to Lifeworks because of its mission-driven approach in the human services sector. “Lifeworks’ commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities and their families aligns closely with my personal values of compassion, advocacy, and empowerment. The agency’s reputation for providing quality care and services further solidified my interest in becoming part of the Lifeworks team.” said Lamin. He added that the opportunity to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives and contribute to a supportive community atmosphere were key factors that attracted him to joining the Lifeworks.

Lamin stated that his job at Lifeworks gives him a profound sense of fulfillment and joy that comes from making a positive impact on the lives of the individuals we support. Seeing the residents thrive and achieve their goals, whether big or small, brings him immense happiness. It’s rewarding to witness their growth, independence, and happiness. Working in a team within the home also motivates him. The collaborative environment fosters mutual support and encourages innovative approaches to care. Sharing successes, overcoming challenges together, and celebrating milestones as a team create a sense of camaraderie that keeps him motivated and engaged. Additionally, the relationships built with coworkers and the residents themselves are incredibly enriching and inspiring. Overall, what’s fun and brings him joy is being part of a supportive community where every day presents an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in someone’s life.

Lamin is passionate about the work he does for Lifeworks and continues to strive to be a good role model as a program manager. When asked about the best advice he could give to a new staff person who wants to work in a community residence, he shared this useful outline:

  1. Embrace Compassion and Empathy: Approach your role with genuine care and empathy for the residents you’ll be supporting. Understanding their individual needs, preferences, and challenges is crucial to providing effective care.
  1. Be Open to Learning: Every day will bring new experiences and opportunities to learn. Stay open-minded and be willing to learn from residents, colleagues, and training programs provided by the organization.
  2. Build Trusting Relationships: Establishing trust with residents is essential. Take the time to get to know each individual, listen actively to their concerns, and respect their preferences. Building strong relationships will enhance the quality of care you provide.
  3. Collaborate with Your Team: Working in a community residence involves teamwork. Collaborate effectively with your colleagues, communicate openly, and support each other to provide consistent and comprehensive care.
  4. Stay Positive and Flexible: The nature of the work in a community residence can be unpredictable. Maintain a positive attitude and be flexible in adapting to changes or unexpected situations that may arise.
  5. Advocate for Residents: Advocate for the rights and well-being of the residents you support. Be their voice when needed, ensuring they receive the support and resources they require to thrive.
  6. Take Care of Yourself: Self-care is crucial when working in a demanding role like this. Make time for activities that recharge you, seek support from colleagues and supervisors when needed, and prioritize your own well-being.
  7. Celebrate Successes: Recognize and celebrate small victories and achievements, both for yourself and for the residents. These moments are significant and reinforce the positive impact you’re making.

Lamin’s educational background is impressive and diverse. He holds a Bachelor of Laws with Honors (LLB) from the University of Sierra Leone and a Master of Laws (LLM) from Northeastern University School of Law. His academic achievements complement his professional dedication, making him a well-rounded and invaluable member of the Lifeworks team. We are grateful for the wonderful staff who dedicate themselves to the individuals and families we serve. Our community residences are homes to over 100 individuals, each unique but united by the presence of great team members like Lamin!

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Autism Support and Family Support Center Nurture Connections and Creativity

The Autism Support Center (ASC) provides tailored resources for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders such as clinical support, specialized recreational programs, and educational services. Lifeworks Family Support Center provides comprehensive assistance to families including intensive family intervention, in-home respite care supports, case management services, emergency supports, clinical services, information and resource referrals, support groups, family training services, and overall guidance when navigating the human services systems. 

Recent programs and activities hosted by ASC and Family Support include the Friendship Club, Glee Club, Junior Culinary Club, a trip to Wards Berry Farm and Trivia Night. Notable highlights also include interactive vacation week activities like an afternoon at One Up Games in Plainville and a hands-on Woodworking Workshop. Enriching programs and activities are essential for both ASC and Family Support as they play a crucial role in fostering opportunities for growth and engagement among individuals and families.

Lifeworks Employee Engagement Committee:

Celebrating Together! 

The Employee Engagement Committee is dedicated to organizing events that celebrate and immerse our staff. Since launching with the unveiling of the Lifeworks Legends Club and Fun at Work Week, the team has been actively creating more memorable experiences.

Random Acts of Kindness Week allowed us to show appreciation for each other by delivering flowers, bringing cups of coffee to colleagues, or leaving thoughtful notes of gratitude. This initiative not only brightened everyone’s day, but also fostered a sense of goodwill throughout Lifeworks.

For Employee Appreciation Day, the committee took inspiration from Willy Wonka, hiding Golden Tickets in candy baskets distributed throughout our agency. This added an element of surprise and excitement for those who discovered a winning treat. On “Souperhero” Day, employees donned their best superhero gear while participating in a soup-making competition, accompanied by sandwiches and snacks.  And recently staff enjoyed Happy Half Hour, where mocktails were served celebrating the end of the fiscal year.  

Next up will be Christmas in July, where we will celebrate with a festive Yankee Swap event. Looking forward, the committee is planning activities and opportunities for Lifeworks two weeks of Staff Appreciation in September aiming to express gratitude to our hard-working staff members who enrich the lives of individuals and families through their exceptional daily efforts.

Recent programs and activities hosted by ASC and Family Support include the Friendship Club, Glee Club, Junior Culinary Club, a trip to Wards Berry Farm and Trivia Night. Notable highlights also include interactive vacation week activities like an afternoon at One Up Games in Plainville and a hands-on Woodworking Workshop. Enriching programs and activities are essential for both ASC and Family Support as they play a crucial role in fostering opportunities for growth and engagement among individuals and families.